By Terrell, Rebecca
The New American , Vol. 26, No. 13
Last month, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) unveiled their "American Power Act," custom-tailored to President Obama's plans to set up quotas for industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with total allowable emissions reduced over time. Better known as cap and trade, the bill is an updated version of S. 1733, companion legislation to the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, H.R. 2454. Kerry's official home page brags that the new bill "puts America back in control of our own power generation, starts to clean up the carbon pollution that threatens our climate stability, and puts us on the path to a new, cleaner and more prosperous economy for the 21st Century."
Kerry and Lieberman redrafted S. 1733 when Republican colleague Lindsey Graham of South Carolina withdrew his support of the legislation. In a May 7 press release, Graham admitted that "the House-passed cap and trade bill is dead," thereby indicating that he was influenced by growing public sentiment against Capitol Hill's climate-change agenda. An April Rasmussen poll found only 33 percent of Americans believe in man-made global warming, down from 47 percent just two years ago.
This growing public awareness is owing in part to last November's "Climategate" scandal involving leaked e-mails that showed UN climate researchers mishandled and manipulated data to favor their own alarmist agenda. A number of gaffes followed in the wake of Climategate: dissension and infighting among delegates at December's UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen; January's revelations of deceit in various reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Climategate scientist Phil Jones' admission to the BBC in February that there has been no "statistically significant" warming for the last 15 years; and the Christian Science Monitor's exposure of fraud in cap and trade.
Despite the negative publicity, congressional diehards remain steadfast in their crusade to pass climate-change legislation. But what of Kerry's boast? Does cap and trade really mean cleaning up "carbon pollution" and ushering in a "more prosperous economy?"
A Hefty Tax
Experts disagree with Kerry's cap-and-trade description. The U.S. Treasury Department released a 2009 analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill indicating that the cost to American taxpayers would be approximately $393 billion per year. According to Heritage Foundation senior analyst Ben Lieberman, cap and trade would cost $4 trillion by 2035, to fund the modest goal of reducing temperatures by only 0.2[degrees]C.
These totals stand in sharp contrast to Obama's claims in a June 2009 address to the House of Representatives that "the price to the average American will be about the same as a postage stamp." Obama's calculation was less than 1 percent of Treasury predictions, and far less than his own dauntingly ambiguous estimate made in a January 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle when he admitted, "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
Jim Johnston, senior fellow with the Heartland Institute, said that the new Kerry-Lieberman re-write offers nothing better. He summarized the bill at the Institute's 4th International Climate Change Conference in May. The legislation mandates graduated limits on industrial GHG emissions, sets up a highly regulated GHG emissions trading system, and provides government subsidies for various energy and environmental initiatives such as natural gas and electric vehicles as well as wind and solar power.
Its schedule of emissions restrictions starts with a 17-percent cut in 2005 levels by 2020 and builds to 83 percent by 2050. This will reduce the amount of energy coming into the economy, driving prices up by two-and-a-half times the percentage reduction in emissions. "There is going to be serious damage to the economy," said Johnston, "and I don't see very much relief coming until it becomes evident that emissions reductions do not mitigate warming. …